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Charlottetown Trap & Skeet Club
- A Thumbnail History -
By Ron H. Atkinson
The Charlottetown Trap & Skeet Club, located at Mount Albion on Prince Edward Island, has one of the oldest and richest histories of any clay target club in Canada, tracing back to the 19th century. It was on July 4, 1884, that a few Charlottetown sportsmen, with a new $12. spring loaded trap, set up in the 'Belvidere Woods', east of the city, and shot the first clay targets on Prince Edward Island, and possibly in Atlantic Canada. Their contest was a very basic form of 16 yard trapshooting from a single station. Their trap was very portable by horse and wagon, and for the next decade, their Belvidere Gun Club competed weekly at a number of home sites in the Charlottetown area. Shoot results were posted in the ‘Patriot’ and through these early days “at the
traps” only one man, local MP Louis Henry Davies, ever enjoyed a perfect daily score of
breaking ten straight targets. Ten targets were the daily contest, and it might seem like a few but they were shot one at a time, in order, and if there were 20 shooters it could be some time between shots. A number of the local trap shooters were militia volunteers and by 1900 the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa saw them leave the Island. A shortage of ammunition and fewer members caused a noted decline in Belvidere Club trapshooting enthusiasm. The area called the 'Belvidere Woods' later changed the name to Belvedere In 1909 trap shooting re-energized in the Maritime provinces and a new shooting club, using the old Belvidere club traps, was formed at ‘Newstead‘, the home of John Morris in Winsloe, PEI The ‘Newstead Gun Club’ began to enjoy well attended weekly competitions, but over the period of a few years the five mile buggy drive to ‘Newstead’ became a burden and the club moved to John Andrews’ home, ‘Belmont’, located in East Royalty not far from the original clay target site
in the Belvidere Woods. The Newstead Gun Club joined the new Maritime Trapshooting Association in 1912. There were no inter-provincial competitions but the association did provide a rules standard for member clubs. Members took an opportunity to move even closer to the city for a short period of time with a new shooting venue at Louis Henry Davies’ ‘Inkerman House’ in the Brighton area of Charlottetown, until they established a more permanent shooting range, for an annual site rental fee of $25, on the infield of the Charlottetown Race Track on Kensington Road, where they shot weekly using the Judge’s Stand as a club house. World War I made ammunition unavailable and, with many members leaving for overseas, once again all activity in Canadian gun clubs everywhere came to an end. The game of skeet shooting originated in the mid 1920s and rapidly became a popular clay target sport throughout North America. Trap shooting had renewed on PEI after WW1, but in 1936 the interest shifted to skeet when a group of local shotgun enthusiasts formed the Charlottetown Skeet Club. They built the required three “houses” (two trap houses and a release house) and established a range in Winsloe on the west side of Rt. 2 near the rail crossing . After three active years, clay target shooting on Prince Edward Island was yet again stymied by a World War II and the club was forced to cease operations it was over in 1945. Skeet shooting was reactivated in 1946 but the Charlottetown club was forced to re-locate and built a new field closer to Charlottetown, on the east side of the North River Road, approximately where the entrance to Home Depot is today. Within a couple of years on North River Road a neighbour complained about the noise and the fact that shot was falling near his house. Rather than challenge the situation a few of the club executive, who were also members of the PEI Rifle Association, suggested a move to their shooting range at Squaw Point until a new location could be found. It was mainly a matter of measuring out a skeet field and moving the houses. It is interesting to note that to this point in time only one score over 20 had been accomplished on PEI, and the 10 other Maritime skeet clubs were still looking for their first 50 straight. This was understandable given the fact that trap releases were all manual, by wire, from a “pull house” behind station four, usually causing a release delay of 1-3 seconds, and the fact that shooters in the act had to have the heel of the gunstock visible below the elbow until the target was released. Hitting 50% of the targets was considered a good day. In 1950 the Charlottetown Skeet Club moved to a permanent location back in Winsloe, on
property donated by member Wallace Rodd, on the Royalty Junction Road behind his tourist cabins at Highfield. For the next sixteen years the club flourished with a large increase in membership. Trapshooting was added and the name was changed to the Charlottetown Gun Club. The first perfect score ever recorded in skeet on Prince Edward Island was a 25x25 by Wylie Bryenton (1954) and the first 100x100, and second in Atlantic Canada, was shot by Ron Atkinson (1955). A clubhouse was built and in 1956 two new skeet fields were constructed and battery operated electric release traps were purchased, ending the manual release era. The three fields at Winsloe, with weekly newspaper coverage of scores, made skeet shooting a popular recreational pastime on Prince Edward Island. Both skeet and trapshooting were available but skeet was by far the most popular choice of members. The game had remained unchanged for 30 years with its semi-circular field, 8 stations and 16 different angles to challenge the skill of shotgunners. A round of skeet was 25 shots, with two single shots from each station, and 4 doubles taken on stations 1,2,6 and 7. The 25th shot was the choice of the shooter, and most headed for low 7?? By 1966 club activity had declined. The property the club was situated on had been sold and Charlottetown skeet shooters moved to a new location on the farm of member Harley Ings in Mount Herbert. The Charlottetown Gun Club reverted to a single skeet field and trap layout. The older trap houses were stored on the property but deteriorated rapidly and were eventually burned. In 1972 the six years of lead accumulation caused a major concern to neighboring corn crops and the Gun Club was forced to make yet another move. This time the club acquired a farm
on the 48 Road in Mount Albion for $2,500 and for the first time in almost 90 years clay target shooting on Prince Edward Island had a permanent home on the Charlottetown Gun Club’s own property. This was also the year that the rules of skeet shooting changed when “speed-up skeet was introduced, changing the option shot to the first miss and doubles taken after the singles on stations 1, 2, 6 and 7. The club soon added a second field an built a new clubhouse at Mount Albion , beginning a new era in clay target enthusiasm on PEI. In 1974 the name was changed to the Charlottetown Trap & Skeet Club and new inter-maritime competitions gradually developed the club into one of the most popular stops on the Maritime skeet circuit. In 1990 the club held the first annual Canadian, ‘Targetdust Classic’ , named for the Canadian skeet news letter, ‘Targetdust’ which originated in the mid 1970s as the Charlottetown club’s monthly bulletin. The club added a third skeet field and introduced a permanent Sporting Clay layout in 1992, providing one of the finest clay target shooting facilities in Eastern Canada. Trap shooting has remained an alternative, linking the club back to its Island roots in 1884, but the game of skeet, with it’s multi-angled shot challenges, has remained the popular clay target choice for most members. A number of individuals have made major personal contributions to the existence and growth of clay target sports on Prince Edward Island from 1884 to the present. Using one individual as an
example, the name of Willard "Bill" Morrell stands out as a representative of those builders. Bill began skeet shooting in Charlottetown as a young man in 1956 and took a dedicated interest in all forms of clay target sports. He developed into one of the most talented and enduring shooters in Maritime skeet history and for the last half century has served the sport in many responsible positions through the best and worst of times. Bill Morrell is a shining example of all who have given time and talent to the existence of the Charlottetown Trap and Skeet Club.

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